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Cindy Sheehan: The organized outpouring of emotion

A couple of days ago, I relayed the story of concerns about the tax-exempt status of Cindy Sheehan's Gold Star Families for Peace organization:

I have another question as well. From the GSFP website:

Gold Star Families for Peace are working to Raise awareness in the United States about the true human costs of the invasion/occupation of Iraq. All donations to Gold Star Families for Peace will be used to assist families who have been impacted by the war. GSFP is a 501C3 non-profit organization

Assist how? How is "impacted" defined? Is there a litmus test before assistance is provided (no assistance for Republicans, for example)? Or does assistance mean handing money over to and Code Pink? Is that allowed by the rules governing a 501(c)(3) organization?

KGO has some answers:

Sheehan's message hasn't changed since she got here but the support staff interested in getting that message out to the world has grown considerably.

Organizers are set up in this house trailer. Their meetings are closed to reporters.

Leading the group is Fenton Communications employee Michele Mulkey, based in San Francisco. Fenton specializes in public relations for liberal non profits.

Their bills are being paid by True Majority, a non-profit set up by Ben Cohen, of Ben and Jerry's ice cream fame.

Ben Cohen: "People are willing to listen to her and we want to do as much as we can to make her voice heard."

Cohen's liberal group has teamed up with Berkeley-based, an anti-Bush group co-founded by Joan Blades.

Earlier this month, helped organize anti-war vigils in support of Cindy Sheehan. Current Democratic National Party chair Howard Dean's organization, Democracy for America, is also involved. As is the more radical anti-war group Code Pink, organized by San Francisco's Medea Benjamin.

No surprises here. These organizations have already been linked to GSFP. But finally, an idea of how families are being "assisted" by donations made to GSFP:

Money donated through these groups and others is helping to pay for Gold Star families whose children have been killed in Iraq to attend anti-Bush protests.

This week, Simi Valley, California Gold Star wife Melanie House flew to Idaho for a protest and then flew to Crawford.

Reporter: "Can you tell us if you're getting help in airfare to come down here?"

Melanie House: "What difference does that make?"

There is real reluctance to talk about whose paying. And the PR machine that's promoting Cindy Sheehan. But not everyone here is completely comfortable with it.

What if a Gold Star family wanted help to see the President? Would they also get airfare? Would a GSFP handler accompany them to make sure they toed the party line?

Not everyone is very happy with this:

Gold Star mother Karen Meredith went to Crawford from Mt. View. Her son Ken Ballard died last year.

Karen Meredith: "Sometimes things don't feel quite right to me. They don't feel wrong but maybe that's how they do it in the marketing business."

ABC7's Mark Matthew: "You feel you're part of a marketing business?"

Karen Meredith: "Possibly. Yeah I think so."

Marketing grief? More like marketing Cindy Sheehan:

Cindy Sheehan kneels before a cross with her son's name on it, touches his picture, wipes her tears. It's an outpouring of emotion that is part of a scheduled news event organized daily for the television radio and print reporters who crowd in to capture a mother's grief.

Cindy Sheehan: "And I'm never going to see him again, I'm never going to hold him again, I'm never going to hear his voice again."

OK, everyone exit to the left to let the next group of reporters in. No pushing please. Next show at 4:30. Tickets available at the Events Tent.

Anyone still harbouring doubts about how she is being used? Or how she is using Casey?

(Hat tip to Drudge)

[These daily grief sessions my help answer the question being posed at Wizbang. QandO notes the manipulation of the Sheehan by the "usual suspects".]

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